If you could be an animal, which animal would you be?
What does the car you drive say about your personality?
If you were in the same position as these people, what would you be saying?

Not sure how to answer these questions? You’re part of a large group of people in politics, nonprofits and companies who aren’t prepared for these types of questions being asked by media.

It’s a crafty technique used by journalists that even most media training coaches forget to address when training people on how to deal with media.

When journalists are reporting for profile features, they want to peel back the surface layers (ie. get beyond those routine questions and answers about age, employment, family, hobbies) and get to know more about what drives a person’s personality.

So, what they do is resort to a technique that I often used when coaching journalists on how to interview people and produce powerful profiles stories. The technique is called Q.U.O.T.E (Questions so Unmistakably Offbeat They’re Effective).

The Q.U.O.T.E Approach is effective because it involves questions where the answers can’t be rehearsed beforehand. You are forced to look to your inner self to answer. It may take a minute. There may be silence for an extended period. That’s OK. That’s exactly what journalists want. They want you to dig deep for an answer, even squirm sometimes.

Obviously, I’m not suggesting journalists will throw Q.U.O.T.E into every interview. They pick the time and the subject. Like the time I told a journalist to ask Canada’s Agriculture Minister what animal he would choose to be (an enlightening question, given that Canada was in the middle of culling millions of chickens due to fears of avian flu!). By the way, he didn’t want to be a chicken!

There are ways you can semi-prepare when journalists throw Q.U.O.T.E at you.  Most often, these types of questions are designed to flush out more about your personality. So, know the basics of your personality and select three to five words that describe you. By doing this, you will be able to answer most examples of popular Q.U.O.T.E questions listed below:

Here are some common examples of the Q.U.O.T.E technique which may be used by journalists:

1. If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
2. If you could be one animal, what would it be? Why?
3. What kind of car do you drive? Some say a car reflects their personality. What do you think your car says about your personality?
4. If you were on a desert island, what three CDs would you take along and why?
5. Describe your ideal vacation?
6. Some people have bumper stickers on their car that reads, I’d Rather Be Sailing. What would your bumper sticker read…. I’d Rather Be. . . ?
7. In high school, you would have been considered the person most likely to. . .
8. If you won the lottery today, describe your life six months from now?
9. If you could be in any other profession, what would it be?
10. If you were prime minister, what’s the first thing you’d do to make life better in Canada